- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3
- Part 4
Division of Labor over Time
History of mankind shows a steady increase in the division of labor in all
kinds of human societies. This process is still going on, it can be
seen in the growing number of active occupations:
Around 1000 AD the division of labor in society and economy started
to extend distinctly, from then on it was clearly visible also in
monitoring functions. The nobles, landlords, town lords, businessmen,
tradespeople, retailers and clerks of the nobility were part of that
function. The ancient, neolithic 15 basic professions had split in
time to more than 100 different kinds of jobs. The following increased
pace of dividing labor was leading to about 800 different professions
in the medieval society of the 17th century.
At the same time a putting-out system was developed in product manufacturing.
A merchant-entrepreneur took raw material to laborers in households or
cottages where single operations of a longer production process were achieved
and when the tasks were accomplished he collected the intermediate product.
The putter-out merchant of the "domestic system" was the first entrepreneur
who was solely monitoring a full production process. He took the orders and
had the single operations done by specialized craftsmen. He usually provided
the raw material and at the end of the production process handed the product
to the customer.
Putter-out merchants were active in wool and cloth production, sword manufacture
and many others. This type of production process was very successful, hence it
was applied in many other production processes. In the course of time the division
of labor constantly extended and in time was introduced into the monitoring tasks
of the putter-out merchant, too. Special clerks assisted the monitoring function.
Alongside the putter-out system - an in house production - a predecessor of the
factory system arose, in continental Europe it was called manufacture. Manufactures
performed most operations of the production process on one site, preferable under
one roof. This served a number of needs, further increase of division of labor was
possible e. g. aids could be assigned to unskilled labor, the specialized, more
expensive workers could concentrate on operations that required higher skills.
Moreover division of labor was systematically extended to monitoring i. e. the
information processing. Shop foremen were helping the plant management. Thus the
monitoring enabled a closer watch on the whole production process: e. g. input
material, input time of the worker and output quality. In manufactures still
most operations were achieved manually as in the putter-out system. This
developed and happened before the industrial revolution.
In the factory system emerging with the industrial revolution division of
labor continued to grow in the production process as well as in the monitoring
functions. However gradually the operations of the production process had become
so small that step by step assisting machine-tools could be introduced relieving
the worker of physical work and especially enabling large quantities with higher
qualities. In time the improving power supply of the machines lead to higher and
higher quantities, one characteristic feature of the industrial revolution.
The changes in manufacturing methods caused the number of occupations to keep
on growing reaching around 31,000 (!) in 1992. This process is presumedly
continuing way into the 21st century. The reason for the strong increase in
time is the advancing specialization of workplaces, tools and staff. The necessity
for specialization is the consequence of the somehow limited amount of knowledge
a person can apply at work on one side and the enornously grown and still growing
knowledge overall in human societies on the other side.
Research and development
and advanced experience and in all fields of life and work have contributed to
the huge amount of accumulated knowledge worldwide today. Results are all the
convenient products and services modern societies marvel. The disadvantages are
taken into account, the most unavoidable are transport and traffic. Products and
services now include in very many cases components of specialized companies. Putting
together these components to assemble in one product requires the transports and
traffic we have to acknowledge every day. Even getting services of specialists,
e. g. doctors, coerces the patients to go, to drive to their different offices.